Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis
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Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

What F1's 2020 front wing designs tell us about each team

A new rules package introduced last year led to a diverse selection of front wing designs, with even the frontrunners choosing very different designs. Now, after a year of development, we look at what lessons have been taken on board.

What F1's 2020 front wing designs tell us about each team

Radical regulation tweaks usually leads to an element of divergence, as each of the teams go in their own direction. However, over time, we usually see convergence on the solution that's perceived to give the best overall performance.

Thanks to Giorgio Piola's illustrations, we're able to get some insight into how the teams have adapted not only their front wings but also their nose designs, recovering some of the downforce and reducing some of the drag penalty naturally created by the introduction of these new regulations.

Haas

Haas VF-19 front wing detail

Haas VF-19 front wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

This illustration shows us how the 2019 wings compare with their predecessors, as the regulation changes outlawed the upper cascade elements and simplified the wing itself, allowing just five elements.

This obviously led to teams looking at ways to recover the downforce and flow conditioning they'd been afforded before. In the case of Haas, it opted for an unloaded solution, whereby the flaps were curved down to meet the endplate in an attempt to drive more airflow across and around the front tyre to help manage the turbulence it creates.

Haas F1 Team VF-19 and Ferrari SF90 front wing detail comparison

Haas F1 Team VF-19 and Ferrari SF90 front wing detail comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

An update applied later in the season saw Haas follow a trend whereby the upper corner of the endplate was cut away, softening the vortex shed here.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing C38 front wing detail

Alfa Romeo Racing C38 front wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Alfa Romeo's chosen front wing direction was one of the more aggressive on the grid in 2019, as it too chose the 'unloaded' solution.

The separation of the downforce generating inner flapped section lay in stark contrast to the unloaded outer portion of the wing, giving a more clunky appearance than some of its better funded rivals.

Alfa Romeo C38 endplate design, Austrian Grand Prix
Alfa Romeo C38 endplate design, German Grand Prix

During the season, Alfa Romeo focused its efforts on its footplate design, with the standard version (left) seen at the Austrian GP devoid of the strake that would be added to the underside for the British GP and subsequently altered for the German GP.

Alfa Romeo Racing C38, front wing and nose
Alfa Romeo C38, front wing

Aiding the front wing in its role of downforce generation and airflow conditioner, the nose has become a significant factor for all of the teams too.

In this regard, the cape solution, first introduced by Mercedes in 2017, is almost ubiquitous now, as the teams use it as a way of not only conditioning the surrounding airflow but also to supplement front-end downforce.

Alfa first introduced its cape at the British GP (left) and followed it up later in the season with tweaks at the Singapore GP (right).

Alfa Romeo Racing C39 front wing nose
Alfa Romeo Racing C39 front nose

Alfa Romeo tidied up its front wing solution in 2020, smoothing out the flaps in order that they no longer have a separate inner and outer section. Instead there is a more stylised transition seen elsewhere on the grid.

It also made a change to its nose tip to include a stylised version of the classic Alfa Romeo grille, rather than the more simple rectangular shape used last season.

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Author Giorgio Piola
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